Back to School Does Not Mean Suspending Financial Reality

Back to school is a $50 billion industry this time of the year. But, by all accounts, it was a bust, in spite of some really great Staples commercials. And retailers are pretty freaked out as back to school is their best indicator of the Christmas season.

For one group of students, back to school didn’t end two weeks ago, and that’s University and College students. First, I know a bunch of students are still shopping for textbooks, and will again, for the next term. Here are nine great sites for comparison shopping on line. But first, start with your professor and ask if you can purchase a prior edition, which you’ll find used, if you try:

Cheapestbookprice.com Allbookstores.com Abebooks.com A1books.com Bookfinder.com Valorebooks.com Biblio.com and Textbook411.com.

There are also a number of U.K. sites for used science textbooks priced so cheap you’ll still be ahead, even after shipping. Finally, if you’re game to rent your textbooks, there is a new site that has saved students over $41 million as of July this year. It’s at chegg.com

While this may be your first few weeks of school, or the final year, do remember that the average student graduates with a degree, but also about $4,00 in credit card debt, and more than $20,000 of student loan debt. THAT will assure being broke for a lot of years to come, even after you start to earn a paycheque. And let’s be honest, it’s not the textbooks or course fees. More often than not, it’s the pizza and beer, the need to own a car, clothes shopping, or trips to the mall. But ask yourself some of these questions. And these questions aren’t just for students, but probably the rest of us that are broke or living paycheque to paycheque:

• Are you mature enough to delay pleasure?
• Are you prepared to be a winner with money?
• How long after graduation do you want to be broke?
• Are you prepared to say the four hardest words out loud: I can’t afford it?
• Do you believe that getting that free T shirt to sign up for a credit card is a better deal for you or the credit card company who now has you trapped and helping with that going broke project they have in mind for you?
• Exactly how do your marks go up when you think you need a plasma TV, or a 23 inch flat screen monitor?
• Are you prepared to live like a student for a few years, so later in life you can live like 95% of the world can’t afford to?
• If you need a car, is this an actual need, or a desire? If it’s legit, are you prepared to drive a “stay out of debt” student car for $2,000 max?

The great news is that you’re an adult now. So choose to act like it, financially. You’re smart enough to go to University! You ought to be smart enough to know that credit and getting into debt is not your friend.

Do you even believe that student loans count as debt? If not, you’re like most students. But you’re also kidding yourself, and will be financially doomed for at least a decade after graduation. No, you won’t think about that today. But you’ll remember my words in about five years or so, I assure you. 70% of the population lives paycheque to paycheque. This year, and for a few more years, you’ll be in a temporary state of broke. That’s part of being a student! Just don’t join the 70% of the world AFTER graduation when every dollar you finally earn goes to rent, food, student loans, and the hangover of credit card debt for stuff from years ago that you can’t even remember charging.

And one more thing for parents:

If you have a son or daughter across the province, or the country, who needs access to some money in a hurry, what do you do? Paypal has just developed a student account.
One of their VPs has six kids and got stuck trying to figure out how to send one of them some money.

The cost is 2%, so when you’re sending $100, $98 shows up at the other end. It’s in Beta testing, but you can get it right now if you already have a PayPal account. If not, you may have to wait. It’s great to have competition from PayPal. Right now, the banks and Western Union have a virtual choke hold on this area, and charge a lot of fees.

Another way is to set up a bank account where you and your son or daughter has a debit card. It can be your son or daughter’s account, but with your card and secret PIN number you can make a deposit into the account and they can access it at the other end.

Just make sure the account is set up without holds on the money, or they’ll be waiting two to six days to get access to it! What’s NOT a solution is to give you kid a supplemental credit card linked to your card. It’s too risky and too tempting. Don’t do it!

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